The Magic Wand of Multimedia! Unethical Decisions in Tourism and Hospitality Education

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The Magic Wand of Multimedia! Unethical Decisions in Tourism and Hospitality Education (Theme: Critical action in the classroom) Cindia Ching-Chi Lam Assistant Professor Institute for Tourism Studies Colina
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The Magic Wand of Multimedia! Unethical Decisions in Tourism and Hospitality Education (Theme: Critical action in the classroom) Cindia Ching-Chi Lam Assistant Professor Institute for Tourism Studies Colina de Mong Ha, Inspiration Building, Macau SAR, China (853) Loretta Un-Ieng Tou Lecturer Institute for Tourism Studies Colina de Mong Ha, Inspiration Building, Macau SAR, China (853) Abstract From bearing negative images to acceptance by leading corporations, until today when it is related as an important element of the firm value (Barnett 2007, Hallak, Assaker et al. 2013), corporate social responsibility has become a prominent requirement for sustainable development. To be socially responsible, the understanding of ethical behavior and decisions is important (Rainbal, Payne 1990, World Tourism Organization 2005). According to the report by Federal Bureau of Investigation, 12.8% of cases reported were on accounting fraud, amongst which is corporate fraud. The situation has attracted global concern, in virtue of some highly publicized cases, including the Enron and WorldCom. This resulted in the growing demand to comprise ethical related topics into the syllabus of university degree programs. For nonaccounting majors, including tourism and hospitality, accounting courses are commonly classified as business management courses. Therefore, fraud education is normally delivered within general management courses framework. This fosters the need to design the syllabus in a way that can meet social and industry requirements, while earning acceptance of students who do not specialize in this area. Fraud accounting is a senior level topic that educates students the importance of ethical behavior and the savage outcomes of making unethical decisions. In most higher education institutes in Asia, it is typical to deliver this senior level topic to junior level students majoring in tourism and hospitality. The level of effectiveness has always been in doubt, which has driven decisions to exclude this topic from the syllabus. To confront this problem, the current research has applied a well-designed pedagogic model that can enhance the understanding of students on this topic area while raising their satisfaction on the course and in turn resulted in better performance. In this model, a mixed education method is applied, using a multimedia tool supplemented by written training materials but exclude traditional classroom training. The 2 materials are delivered in a foreordain arrangement, holding specialized objectives and followed by distinct coursework to intensify the capability at making ethical decisions. For the multimedia tool, a documentary movie on one of the most influential accounting scandal in history that leads to the establishment of the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) was used. Data is collected during one semester on around three hundred freshman undergraduates. A questionnaire covering eight major categories was developed based on past literatures and local consideration is used and data analyzed by quantitative methods. Based on the technology acceptance model (TAM), four hypotheses are established and all are found to be supported. The majority of students hold a positive preference on the use of movie to learn the influence of accounting fraud and the drawbacks of unethical decisions. It is found to improve their understanding and perceived to be more effective than reading textbooks alone. Introduction The paces of the world economic development have changed dramatically over the past decades. The use of economic resources, the way of communication, the fast development of technology and the high expectation of the investors have much impact on the strategies and development of different organizations and corporations. Aside from the financial performance of the corporations, a more critical concern has been placed on the ethical issues of the business since there has been an increasing 12.8% cases reported on eight categories of accounting fraud according to the report released by Federal Bureau of Investigation (Federal Bureau of Investigation 2012). Since a number of international companies have a vast development in Macau, international accounting standards have also been applied in preparing the financial reports. In 3 order to equip students to be more competent and competitive, universities and institutes in Macau have been providing different level of accounting courses that covered basic theories, concepts and technical skills for accounting and non-accounting major students. Though accounting major students who are prepared to be accounting professionals are learning more advanced accounting courses than non-accounting major students who mostly focus on elementary accounting, it is believed that all business students should have a basic knowledge and sensitivity on fraud accounting (Gates, Lee et al. 2011). The issue of code of ethics, being an important element of fraud accounting, has become more important in the industry. The topic of fraud accounting was used to be either found in forensic accounting or advanced accounting courses. Therefore, opportunities to learn this topic should definitely be given to more students who are going to work in the management level and become decision makers. Except students found that the concepts and knowledge they learnt about fraud accounting was useful and practical, the employers also appreciated for the benefit they can gain from these students (Peterson 2003). More employers realized that it was important for their employees to be sensitive and knowledgeable about fraud accounting. In this research, the technology acceptance model (TAM) has been applied to understand how the use of multimedia as an education tool could affect the learning performance of students on accounting. The multimedia employed was a movie and the topic of study was an advanced topic, the accounting fraud, with a focus on the drawbacks of unethical management decisions. Students mostly stereotyped accounting courses to be boring and difficult to master, this research demonstrated that the use of movie can help students to learn the concepts and impacts of accounting fraud and the grievous influence of unethical decisions in an easier, more relaxed and effective way. 4 Based on past literatures, a questionnaire that covered eight areas of study was utilized. The preference of the students on eight types of traditional and non-traditional education tools to study accounting was investigated and movie was the second most highly preferable education tool to be used. Further understanding on this preference was examined by ten features related with the movie, from the richness of information to its effectiveness over traditional textbooks. Movie was reported to be informative, ease the learning process and more effective than using textbooks. Supported by these conceptual evidences, the effectiveness of using movie as an education tool was analyzed statistically by means of the technology acceptance model (TAM), based on two core constructs of perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use of the movie. Four hypotheses were constructed and all were supported. All the variables were found to be positively correlated and the technology acceptance of using movie to learn accounting was concluded to affect the belief of students at achieving better performance. The extent of knowledge learnt on the major areas of accounting fraud and unethical decisions was elaborated through descriptive statistics, when around 50% of students expressed that have better understanding on each of the areas under study. Literature Review There is no wonder that standardized concepts, figures and calculations are linked with all accounting courses, from elementary to advance. To start the course with a real world example can arouse more of the interest of the students. It can also ease the anxiety of the students towards the stereotypes of accounting and accountants (Stice, Stice 2006). Besides, when students are first introduced about the topic of accounting fraud, the use of cases is very useful and can increase the initiatives of the students. Enron can be a very good choice as a starting point. Not only can it help students to understand more about the perceptions of the corporation, 5 bankers, employees and the auditors within the case, it also shows how relevant accounting is to their daily life. Gaining momentum in the first session is important for both students and instructors. For non-accounting major students studying tourism and hospitality stream, they may find more initiatives and passion in studying accounting courses with the real world example given as a launch. Fordham (2012) advised to use the same fraud case again in different accounting courses and institutions when students and instructors were more familiar with the detail of the case which can have a more effective result. Instructors can also customize the materials of the case in their own courses. Due to the expectation for the knowledge of ethics and ethical behaviour covered in colleges by practitioners, Thomas (2012) suggested the importance and essence of the transference of ethical standards to first year students. Argument on the understanding of ethical issues between accounting and non-accounting students has been addressed but no significant difference can be found. Therefore, though students with different perception and rationales on ethical issues which includes moral equity, contractualism, relativism, utilitarianism and egoism (Reidenbach, Robin 1998) will have different efforts in decision making, it has been found that education will have a positive effect on deliberative reasoning (Thomas 2012). Furthermore, it stated that senior students use higher deliberative reasoning instead of cognitive moral capability. As more concern has been raised on ethical issues in business, it should not only be delivered at the latter days of students university life. The fraud topics should be incorporated into the entire business curriculum (Gates, Lee et al. 2011). Except fraud cases discussed in forensic accounting courses, more universities and institutes have included the business fraud topic in other accounting and business courses in order to let students aware of its importance and improve decision making. 6 As more different types of fraud cases happened in this recent decade, there was an increasing demand for expertise in forensic accounting and more fraud services were provided by accounting firms (Peterson 2003). It is important to have students well equipped with basic knowledge on fraud accounting so that better service and decision making can be provided to their future employers. In order to let students understand more about fraud cases, real cases are assigned to students for learning and experiencing. Students regarded it as a valuable educational experience and an effective way to apply their knowledge (Daigle, Hayes et al. 2014). Pre-class reading can help students to have better discussion and decision on the cases. Students found very useful and interesting in learning fraud accounting with detail guidance of the instructors (Gissel 2014). After learning through real cases, students can understand the types of information available from public sources and have a better understanding of the role of publicly available information in fraud accounting engagements (Quirin, O'Bryan 2014). Positive feedbacks of students can be found in handling the cases by themselves. Though a lot of analytical skills were required in decisions making, students still found the cases interesting. Thus, they were more inspired by the use of their accounting knowledge that may affect the management behaviour and the financial reporting choices (Dutta, Caplan et al. 2014). In the recent decades, more fraud cases like Enron and WorldCom were known to the business world, more stakeholders including the government finally realized the innovative tactics used by these corporations and the importance of fraud accounting. Traditional way of teaching may not be the prelude that can attract the audience of fraud accounting. In order to make the delivery of the topic more interactive and effective, hybrid form of teaching can be used (Dowling, Godfrey et al. 2003). Flexible learning pattern can affect the results and performance of students positively and they were more devoted to the course. It was also proved that the relationship among the different uses of technology in education, the students academic performance and the effects of motivation was significant. (Valentin, Mateos et al. 7 2013). Albeit another form of teaching using the Blackboard discussion which can arouse the interest of the students in gathering more information and enhancing individual s contribution, the result showed a negative relationship between the performance of the students and the online exercises (Rainsbury, Malcolm 2003). Using the same platform, positive results showed that blended learning can affect the academic achievement targeted to students. It was also the effective combination of different modes of delivery, models and styles of learning (Obiedat, Eddeen et al. 2014). However, Lane and Porch (2002) found no relationship between the performance of the non-accounting major students and the method of teaching. Students may find the hybrid form of teaching useful but less likely to be helpful in delivering the knowledge. Therefore, there is no perfect form of education in delivering accounting knowledge to students but more education tools should be used in order to cope with the needs of the students. Multimedia tools have been used widely in education. Video clips like TV, movies, YouTube were recommended to be used as teaching tool in the classroom. Some of the potential learning value of video clips such as generating interest in class, focusing students concentration, creating a sense of anticipation, increasing understanding, inspiring and motivating students, making learning fun can enhance the effectiveness of the courses (Berk 2009). In order to make visual learning superior than verbal learning, steps taken by the instructors are very critical. Special guidelines for students like some pre-reading, discussion questions and the introduction of the video are required. In the early stages, students had negative feedbacks in using multimedia due to the nature of the course. However, with the standardization of the materials used in the multimedia, it became more convenient to the users and some students even appreciated for the animation made in the multimedia (Junaidu 2008). In some universities and institutes, it is difficult to make fraud accounting as one full course so Gates et al. (2011) suggested incorporating the topic in different business courses by using videos as a complement to textbook and lecture. In this way, even non-accounting students can 8 have a thorough learning experience in this topic. The improvement of attitude and ability can be found through the use of multimedia (Wise, Groom 1996). On the other side of the coin, some drawbacks have been concluded which included the lack of communication and interaction between the students and the instructor (Holtzblatt, Tschakert 2011). The use of video clips can stimulate and motivate the students in learning a particular topic. Besides, it can avoid some students who spend less time in reading and preparing the materials. Ellis (2001) stated that it may not be easy to evaluate the effectiveness of using multimedia as an educational tool but it would be more important to understand the different learning styles of the students in developing their critical thinking capabilities through the use of multimedia. More different and new types of multimedia are being used for education. During the past decade, the perception in using multimedia during classes has been changed greatly. Unlike traditional way of teaching which is commonly a one-way communication, multimedia becomes an important complement to education which provides a lot of convenience to both students and instructors. Therefore, when schools can provide adequate resources and instructors are willing and capable of using multimedia, effectiveness on the performance of students and positive feedback can be achieved sooner or later. Training provided to instructors is definitely required to develop their competence, confidence and enthusiasm (Ferry, Brown 1995). It was also important to understand the students satisfaction and motivation when multimedia was applied in the courses (Astleitner, Wiesner 2004, Yarbrough 2001). To understand the level of effectiveness of using technology, the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) suggested by Davis (1989) has been applied. A lot more researches have also applied the same model in different areas (Amornkitpinyo, Piriyasurawong 2015, Rodriguez, Lozano et al. 2012). Generally, the model has been proved to be useful and reliable in understanding and explaining the behavior of the users towards technology (Chen, Li et al. 2011). However, there is still argument about the correlation for the usefulness than the ease of use (Averweg 2008). In this research, it 9 studied whether the level of perceived usefulness (PU) of movie for the learning of fraud accounting would affect the level of perceived ease of use (PEOU). There would be an extension for the study of students attitude of PU and PEOU on the delivery of fraud accounting by means of movie. From the preceding literatures, the following four hypotheses were developed. Hypothesis 1: The perceived usefulness (PU) of movie has significant effect on the perceived ease of use (PEOU) of movie for learning. Hypothesis 2: The perceived usefulness (PU) of movie has significant effect on the technology acceptance (TA) of using movie to learn accounting. Hypothesis 3: The perceived ease of use (PEOU) of movie has significant effect on the technology acceptance (TA) of using movie to learn accounting. Hypothesis 4: The technology acceptance (TA) of using movie to learn accounting has significant effect on the belief to achieve better performance. Methodology This research has involved more than nine hundred undergraduates over three scholastic years. The current paper reported the results on one semester with the participation of 284 students from the five majors of event management, heritage management, hotel management, retail management and tourism management. These students were all taking the course of Management Accounting at the time of the research. The course covered eight topics and to control the setting for students to fully experience both traditional classroom learning (TCL) and learning through multimedia, the topic of accounting fraud with the usage of multimedia for teaching was designed as the last topic of the syllabus. 10 Survey approach was adopted using questionnaires with 101 questions. The questionnaire was developed based on past literatures (Rainsbury, Malcolm 2003, Lane, Porch 2002, Potter, Johnston 2006) with local considerations, the course structure and the topic of study. It constituted eight major parts on personal learning habits (8 questions), preference on education tools and perception on the accounting course (27 questions), preparation done before the movie (10 questions), perception on the movie (10 questions), perception on the usage of movie for learning (14 questions), the perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use of movie (11 questions), the differences in the extent of knowledge learnt on the core study objectives before and after the movie (15 questions), together with demographics. The Likert scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being extremely disagreeable (extremely difficult) and 5 being extremely agreeable (extremely easy) were used. The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) was applied as the theoretical basis and four hypothe
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